No consensus exists regarding the enumeration of North American Amelanchier taxa. In eastern North America, most floras and regional treatments have roughly the corresponding number (although sometimes not the same species) as G. N. Jones (1946); though often substantial differences of opinion exist regarding circumscriptions of individual taxa. Disagreement is deeper for western North America, for which Jones had seven species and P. Landry (1975) had but one.
Identification of individual taxa can be difficult because of the variability within each species. In addition, some species have not diverged much from one another genetically.
In general, we are following the treatment in the Flora of North America[
Amelanchier ovalis (Willd.) Borkh.
Amelanchier stolonifera auct.
Amelancus spicata (Decne.) Vollm.
Crataegus spicata Lam.
Pyrus ovalis Willd.
Amelanchier spicata is a deciduous shrub growing from 30 - 120cm tall, occasionally to 200cm. The plant is strongly rhizomatous, producing up to 100 suckers and forming scattered colonies[
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food. An ornamental plant, it is grown in gardens for its floral display, the autumn colour of its leaves, and for its edible fruits, which attract birds to the garden[
N. America - Ontario to Labrador, south to Alabama and Georgia
Dry rocky places[
]. Summits and cliffs of low mountains, open woods, woodland clearings, rocky soil, crevices, shores, fields, roadsides, peaty, sandy, or gravelly and, typically, acidic soil; at elevations up to 1,200 metres[
|Cultivation Status||Ornamental, Wild
Plants are hardy to about -25°c[
Prefers a rich loamy soil in a sunny position or semi-shade[
], but thrives in any soil that is not too dry or water-logged[
]. Prefers an acidic soil[
].Grows well in heavy clay soils.
All members of this genus have edible fruits and, whilst this is dry and uninteresting in some species, in many others it is sweet and juicy. Many of the species have potential for use in the garden as edible ornamentals. The main draw-back to this genus is that birds adore the fruit and will often completely strip a tree before it is fully ripe[
Produces suckers freely, forming thickets.
This species is closely related to Amelanchier stolonifera[
], it is possibly a hybrid of Amelanchier canadensis and Amelanchier stolonifera[
Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus[
]. Grafting onto seedlings of Amelanchier lamarckii or Sorbus aucuparia is sometimes practised in order to avoid the potential problem of hybridizing[
Edible fruit - raw or cooked. Sweet and juicy[
]. The fruit is rich in iron and copper[
]. It is rather small, about 8mm in diameter[
]. The purple-black fruit can be from 7 - 12mm in diameter[
Seed - it is best harvested 'green', when the seed is fully formed but before the seed coat has hardened, and then sown immediately in pots outdoors or in a cold frame. If stored seed is obtained early enough in the autumn, it can be given 4 weeks warm stratification before being left out in the winter and it should then germinate in the spring. Otherwise seed can be very slow to germinate, perhaps taking 18 months or more. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a sheltered outdoor position, planting them out once they are 20cm or more tall.
If there is sufficient seed it is best to sow it thinly in an outdoor seedbed[
]. Grow the seedlings on for two years in the seedbed before planting them out into their permanent positions during the winter.
Layering in spring - takes 18 months[
Division of suckers in late winter. The suckers need to have been growing for 2 years before you dig them up, otherwise they will not have formed roots. They can be planted out straight into their permanent positions if required.